Fostering Ph.D. aspirations among upward transfer students in computing

Jennifer M. Blaney, Annie M. Wofford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background Students who transfer from community colleges in pursuit of four-year degrees (i.e., upward transfer students) represent a diverse and talented group that is critical to advancing gender equity in STEM. However, research has not yet explored factors that promote Ph.D. aspirations among upward transfer computing students, resulting in missed opportunities to support this unique group. Objective We examine the predictors of upward transfer computing students’ Ph.D. aspirations, focusing on how these patterns might be unique for upward transfer women. Method Relying on longitudinal survey data from upward transfer students across 15 research universities, we use logistic regression with interaction terms to identify the predictors of Ph.D. aspirations. Findings We found that Ph.D. aspirations were especially frequent among upward transfer women, 14% of whom aspired to earn a Ph.D. Other results highlight the importance of faculty encouragement for graduate study in predicting all upward transfer students’ Ph.D. aspirations. Beyond the direct role of such faculty encouragement, perceptions of computing faculty uniquely predicted Ph.D. aspirations for upward transfer women. Implications Our findings provide insight into how to bolster more equitable access to faculty mentorship, support students throughout the transfer process, and create inclusive faculty policies, which impact students’ perceptions of academia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-511
Number of pages23
JournalComputer Science Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021


  • Gender
  • community college transfer
  • graduate school aspirations
  • regression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Education


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